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JULIAN LEYBOURNE Icon Training was named as one of the UK's top training

providers in April 2012 after it was awarded Outstanding status by Ofsted. Tom Walker speaks to founder Julian Leybourne about Icon's success and his passion for leisure

Grade 1s from its Ofsted inspec- tion was heralded as a landmark for the industry. In its glowing report, Ofsted stated that Icon Training's skills tutors are highly regarded by employers and learners who recog- nise and appreciate the contribution they make to the leisure industry. Ofsted also praised the infl uence Icon had on the professionalising of the active leisure sector. The report said: 'Icon Training is


very well managed and has a strong impact on the leisure industry it serves. It provides an inspirational resource for the industry and has transformed many learners' lives. With a current learner success rate of 93 per cent, the company's success rates have continued to improve much faster than the national average.'

Founded in 1995 by chief executive Julian Leybourne, Icon Training cur- rently delivers training programmes in more than 200 assessment sites nationwide. Leybourne's career in lei- sure spans nearly 40 years after he started out as a training manager in the early 1970s.

he news that Icon Training had become the fi rst leisure com- pany to obtain seven

Icon Training offers a range of courses in leisure, fi tness, coaching, management, customer service and business administration

The employers contribute to our suc- cess, because obviously without them the whole thing wouldn't work.

Why do you think Icon Training has been so successful? Our success is directly attributed to three factors. First, our outstanding leadership and management focus. Second, our dynamic, inspirational skills tutors. And third, the way we work with employers as a partnership.


How important is it for the fitness industry to have well-qualified staff ? One of the greatest achievements from SkillsActive was to create the Register of Exercise Professional (REPs). For the fi rst time there was something that regulated and endorsed competency- based qualifi cations. Qualifi cations are one thing but CPD is another, and sec- tor professionals need to demonstrate that competencies are being updated. As chair of the National Management Board for Wales with CIMSPA I am keen that we promote professionalism within the sector. Joining a Chartered Institute will add value to the sector and provide sport and physical activity profession- als with a means to top up their CPD and network with other professionals. While I believe that having a tech- nical qualifi cation in fi tness is

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essential, the best fi tness profession- als are not just technically competent, they also need to have training in a range of disciplines including cus- tomer excellence. This enables them to fully understand the barriers – both real and perceived – to their clients. They also need to understand how to be truly customer-centric.

What does it mean for Icon to achieve the 'outstanding' assessment from Ofsted?

Its a historic achievement. I think that it's a recognition and endorsement of the integrity, value, professionalism and quality that Icon represents. The assessment itself is an

incredibly rigorous and intensive expe- rience. There are several inspectors who stay with you the whole week and follow you around, talk to your staff, the employers you work with, the partners and also the learners. Mac Cleves, Icon Training's MD was the nominee and he met the challenge well by addressing the inspection pri- orities and producing a comprehensive programme for inspection. ●

ISSUE 3 2012 © cybertrek 2012

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